SAN JOSE – Google unveiled its most detailed vision yet for a walk-through neighborhood in downtown San Jose. This groundbreaking development is intended to redesign the western fringes of the urban core of the city while still blending in with neighboring communities.
The Downtown West plan also underscores the tech giant’s continued commitment to its San Jose plans at a time when businesses around the world are shaping the future of office space in the work-from-home era sparked by the coronavirus pandemic rethink.
“We applaud this vision, not because it came from Google, but because it encompasses the vibrant, dynamic downtown drive that our community has long pursued as generations of San Jose people have sought to create a local destination that is our authentic , reflecting diverse character. ” The Mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo, said.
Google’s village would add 7.3 million square feet of office space, 4,000 homes, shops, restaurants, a hotel, 10 parks, cultural and entertainment centers, and immersive and interactive educational elements near the Diridon train node in downtown San Jose.
Downtown West, a city within the city, will also pave the way for a sharp increase in affordable housing and green development. Google could employ up to 25,000 people on the site.
“We’re excited about this next step in our project, which takes feedback from thousands of people over the past two years and provides yet another opportunity for community input,” said Alexa Arena, Google’s development director for San Jose.
“This is the next level in development for San Jose,” said Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association. “You have the living space, the affordable living space and the offices are certainly there. But you also have the extraordinary combination of open spaces and cultural uses that make it really unique. “
Google will be working with the city to ensure 25% of homes in the Diridon Station area are affordable.
“We continue to hear that building housing and maintaining affordability are a priority for San Jose, and our proposal will provide San Jose with more affordable housing, commuting and communal spaces,” said Arena.
The 4,000 homes Google is looking to develop as part of the project will be affordable for people of all income levels, Google said.
Google submitted two important documents to the city on Wednesday. One of these is a 1,350 page draft environmental impact report outlining the project’s impact. The other details are design guidelines and how buildings would be massaged.
The submission of the documents initiates an intensive review and approval process, which includes public hearings and formal votes.
“The pandemic has made even more critical of the community’s top concerns about this project – preventing evictions, adding affordable housing and ensuring quality jobs for working families and color communities -” said Maria Noel Fernandez, campaign director at Silicon Valley Rising, a community group that is critical of Downtown West.
Downtown West has an area of 80 hectares, of which 55 hectares can be developed. Of the 55 hectares, around 30 hectares will be reserved for residential use and public spaces.
Google says the project will not generate any net inflows in greenhouse gases.
The tech titan intends the new buildings to be almost entirely electric. About 65 percent of the journeys on the site would be via local traffic, cycling and walking. Only 35 percent would be people who drive alone. In addition, Downtown West would generate 7.8 megawatts of solar energy on site and have a local microgrid. Google will also buy carbon offset payments.
“At a time when so much of our world is on hiatus due to COVID, it is encouraging to know that San Jose’s most significant long-term urban development project is on the right track and is reaching an important milestone,” said Deputy City Administrator Kim Walesh said. “Google is driving Downtown West, its extraordinary project and investment in San Jose.”
Google is striving for a development that does not offer an isolated appearance.
“Downtown West should be a real part of the city, the opposite of a traditional corporate campus,” said Laura Crescimano, founder of SITELAB Urban Studio, the project’s leading urban planner. “The draft design standards and guidelines published today contain the roadmap for a resilient and networked inner city in West.”
Historic buildings and natural features such as the Guadalupe River and Los Gatos Creek are included.
“Our team worked with Google to take advantage of the uniqueness of the location and propose a place where urban life and nature can coexist,” said Crescimano. “We have brought together new and historical buildings, opportunities for art and culture, playful spaces and moments of calm along the stream.”
According to a Google spokesperson, the building heights will be between 40 and 290 feet.
“This is an important milestone for the development of San Jose, for the future economic stability of the city and for its growth as a large US city,” said land use expert and consultant Bob Staedler.
Google believes the project can transition smoothly to adjacent neighborhoods and different parts of the village.
An example published by Google is a concept of the Gateway Plaza section of the project along West Santa Clara Street near the San Jose Water building that will remain part of the development.
The concept shows a mix of office buildings, houses, assembly areas, educational facilities, an ecological learning station and active and comprehensive functions to involve residents, workers, neighbors and visitors.
“This is like a city within a city,” said Knies. “Downtown West will not be a forest of tall buildings. It’s bloody impressive. “